Having heard discussions in Congress regarding a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage, I am bothered by the way both parties are approaching it. I suppose I am not surprised that the Republicans are using such a tactic in order to distract America’s attention from foreign policy and the economic disasters of the past few years. It is obvious that the doctrine of the Bush administration and the Republican Party is one of controlling the American public when controlling the rest of the world fails.
I am agitated by the fact that the Democratic Party, the “party of inclusion,”is not making many comments in the process of discussing this amendment. The strategy of crossing fingers and hoping the Republicans will stop won’t work. Say what you will about the conservative movement, but their dogged devotion to conservative causes has been proved issue by issue. The reason we have two major parties is to represent the different ideas of the American public. Democrats must speak out for the liberal constituency in this nation that is going without voice in many cases, or the Democratic Party will fall apart and fail to regain power.
There are some good and bad signs for the gay community in this debate. The Democratic Party under chairman Howard Dean has adopted the 50 state strategy, bringing Democratic politics to areas in the South and West that have had little in the way of Democratic structure. One way in which this has manifested itself has been an increase in local elections where Republicans don’t go unchallenged. Another is the increasing poll numbers nationwide for Democratic candidates, especially in areas that are considered deeply conservative.
However, the recent passage of state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman has to be disconcerting to gay activists. In places like Mississippi and Alabama, such amendments are none too surprising but in more progressive states like Wisconsin, the gay marriage issue has been hotly contested heading into the 2006 midterm elections. The 2006 midterm elections may aid the effort of gay activists because of the failure of Republicans to cement many of their safe seats in Congress and the improving ability of Democrats to play hardball politics. In the end, the Democrats will not gain as much ground in state and national elections as they would hope and gay activists will be disappointed at the results of state amendment votes. While people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of gay marriage, there are still a lot of conservative Christians and others in conservative areas who are influential enough to add more discomfort to the debate. It may take until the 2008 presidential election before headway is made on gay marriage at the national level.